BASIC Thermal Forecast Parameters
Dr. John W. (Jack) Glendening, Meteorologist 

This is a simple guide to the BLIPMAP parameters I consider to be most important for basic forecasting of thermal soaring conditions.  Parameter descriptions are not provided here but are available on the Parameter Description webpage and each parameter mentioned below has a link to its description on that page.  Additional details and caveats are also given there. 

NB:  The atmospheric Boundary Layer (BL) is the vertical region above the surface within which air has been mixed by thermal or wind shear eddies, i.e. the region where glider pilots normally fly.  BLIPMAP forecasts primarily analyze conditions within the BL, though some non-BL parameters are also forecast. 

Dry Thermal Parameters:

      For forecasting dry thermal strength:  Thermal Updraft Velocity  (W*)  (Note that glider sink rate must be subtracted to get vario reading)

      To determine if thermals might be torn apart by strong wind shear:  Buoyancy/Shear Ratio 

      (Note that the above two parameters can be viewed in a single composite plot:  "Thermal Updraft Velocity & B/S Ratio".)

      For forecasting maximum soaring height unhindered by a cloudbase:  Height of Critcal Undraft Strength  (Hcrit)  (Higher heights can be reached when small-scale terrain not resolved by the model has maximum elevations significantly higher than the model-resolved terrain)

Cloud Parameters - if clouds may exist:

      For forecasting cloudbase of isolated puffy cumulus:  Cu Cloudbase where CuPotential>0 

      For forecasting cloudbase of OvercastDevelopment (spreadout) clouds:  OvercastDevelopment Cloudbase where ODpotential>0 

Wind Parameters:

      For forecasting average wind while thermalling:  BL Avg. Wind 

The above are the basic parameters.  But under certain conditions other parameters should also be considered:

      For estimating the uncertainty/variability in the predicted maximum dry soaring height:  Thermal Height Uncertainty 

      If thunderstorm formation might be important:  CAPE 

      If convergence line lift, as produced by wind flow around terrain or by a sea-breeze, might be used:  BL Max. Up/Down Motion 

Parameters not mentioned above, of which there are many, are intended primarily for more weather-wise users who wish more information than provided by the the basic parameters.